Rumor Mill: Team Draft Desires

Sources throughout the league are giving indications of which players would best fit specific team needs. Here's what has been told by league and team sources on seven NFC teams (updated) and new info on 12 AFC teams.

NFC Team Notes

Carolina Panthers
A league source believes the Panthers will select either a running back or weakside linebacker with their first-round draft choice.

It's believed the running backs that the team will consider are LenDale White and Joseph Addai.

It's believed the team will strongly consider OLB DeMeco Ryans should he still be on the board.

Chicago BearsMost team observers note that the club will select a tight end with their first-round selection. It's believed that they have Marcedes Lewis ranked higher than Leonard Pope on their draft board.

Another possibility is to select a safety who would be seen as an upgrade over second-year FS Chris Harris, who didn't play well, according to a league source, during their playoff game against Carolina.

Detroit LionsWhile many fans and draft experts believe the team will select CB-S Michael Huff with their first-round selection, a league source indicated a possible selection could be LB Ernie Sims, who is a great fit for head coach Rod Marinelli's defensive scheme. However, Sims has been taken off of many teams draft boards due to repeated concussion issues suffered in his collegiate career.

Another possibility is DT Brodrick Bunkley who could fill a need with veteran DT Dan Wilkinson's career up in the air. However, the team seems confident that second-year DT Shaun Cody will be able to take over the job.

Philadelphia EaglesA league source believes the team most likely will trade their selection in the first round and select C Nick Mangold.

However, if they stay at No. 14, LB Chad Greenway is a strong possibility. Greenway would be the seen as the eventual replacement for veteran SLB Dhani Jones who struggled last season.

While the team visited extensively with OT Winston Justice, questions remain whether the team is really comfortable with his off-the-field issues. However, publicly, the team seems to be satisfied with him, according to the LA Daily News.

"People told me he was shooting people and I'm going, `That's not a good thing,' " Eagles coach Andy Reid said after meeting with Justice. "So I talked to the kid. He says, `I had rubber bullets and we were playing,' which is what my kids do, they shoot each other with little air guns and rubber bullets. That's different than blowing someone's head off.

"I came out with a different perception than I went in with. You come out of there, and the people we talked to, (with the impression) that he's a pretty good kid."

Should the team select Justice, he would project to take over the starting left tackle job eventually for the aging Tra Thomas.

While there have been reports of the team trading up for DT Haloti Ngata, a league source told this week that DT Brodrick Bunkley is a much better fit for defensive coordinator Jim Johnson's scheme. Johnson likes quick, athletic defenders that can get a rush up field and Bunkley fits that bill rather well.

A sleeper selection with their first-round pick is WR Chad Jackson, who impressed the club with his combine workout and they are said to be very impressed with his speed.

Second-round possibilities are WR Maurice Stovall and OL Charles Spencer, who impressed offensive line coach Juan Castillo during Senior Bowl week practices, game tape, and private workouts.

As was first to report, the club worked out (quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmur) Yale QB Jeff Mroz on Tuesday who is seen as a A.J. Feeley type of player. That means he's a player who was overlooked by scouts and was a late-round selection but has a strong arm and ability. The Eagles took a chance on Feeley in the fifth round of the 2001 draft and developed him well enough that he was able to yield a second-round pick from Miami in a trade in 2004. Mroz is seen as a seventh-round selection by most NFL talent evaluators.

Seattle SeahawksA team source indicated this week that Seattle is likely to select either a cornerback or defensive end with their first round selection. While cornerback is a bigger need, they really only have two solid ends on the roster and little quality depth at the position. The team also is still interested in signing UFA CB Ty Law.

In the second or third round, look for the team to select a guard as they have next to no depth at either spot.

St. Louis Rams – A league source told this week that the team is strongly considering selecting LB Chad Greenway with their first-round selection.

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is very high on him and Greenway could be the eventually replacement for aging WLB Dexter Coakley.

The player that makes the most sense for them is DT Brodrick Bunkley, but it's expected that he won't be there when they select.

Rumors are rampant that the team is considering selecting QB Jay Cutler, but most league sources believe that the Rams are trying to get the Vikings to think they want him to create more value for the selection. However, a league source told this week that the Vikings aren't likely to trade up that far, if at all, for Cutler.

The team could also trade down to select a cornerback, which is a position they're looking to upgrade.

Washington RedskinsA league source told this week that though the team spent a lot of time last week with University of Connecticut TE Ed Nelson at his workout, he likely won't get drafted or signed by the Redskins.

Draft-wise, head coach Joe Gibbs indicated earlier this week that the cost of moving up in to the first round might be too high and they're more likely to stay where they are (No. 53). The team really doesn't have any glaring needs, but quality depth is an issue at defensive end (pass rusher), weak ide linebacker (upgrade possibly), and cornerback (younger nickel back).

AFC Pre-Draft Notes

Baltimore Ravens
It's no secret that the club covets DT Haloti Ngata with their first-round selection. Should he be off the board at the time they pick or DT Broderick Bunkley, a trade down is an option.

Buffalo BillsMost league sources believe the club will select DT Brodrick Bunkley with their first-round selection (No. 8). Bunkley is seen as a better fit for their defensive scheme, which is similar to Tampa Bay's. DT Haloti Ngata is seen as a better fit for a 3-4 scheme/two-gap player.

Should Bunkley go off the board or the team decides to pass on him, it's believed they'll look strongly at selecting S-CB Michael Huff or go with Ngata. Huff is capable of playing either safety spot and veteran FS Troy Vincent turns 35 years old soon.

Cincinnati BengalsA team source indicated to this week that the team will likely pass up selecting one of the top tight ends in the first round and will turn to the top cornerback left on their board at the time they're selecting (No. 24).

While some see them needing to find a replacement for aging C Rich Braham, it's believed they're very much on his potential replacements — Eric Ghiaciuc and Ben Wilkerson.

A defensive end is also a likely selection on the first day for depth.

Cleveland BrownsTwo team sources told this week that the team has narrowed down the choices on their first-round selection to DTs Haloti Ngata and Brodrick Bunkley and DE/OLB Kamerion Wimbley. As first reported several weeks ago, the club believes Wimbley could come in and play right away on the opposite side of veteran DE/OLB Willie McGinest if needed.

If the team trades down, DE/OLB Manny Lawson could be a possibility in round one.

Indianapolis ColtsTeam sources indicated to this week that the club is considering several options with their first-round selection (No. 30) and is also looking at other options if they trade down. Most team observers note that they will select a running back if they don't trade down. The best fit for their offense seems to be Joseph Addai. The team has shown strong interest in RB Maurice Drew, but he is seen more as a rotational back. RB Laurence Maroney is also supposed to be in their thinking.

If CB/S Jason Allen drops all the way to their selection, he likely would get stronger consideration because of value than the running backs, assuming the team is comfortable with the medical reports on his hip.

If they traded down to the second round, an option is to select one of the backs that fell or a guard who would be seen as an upgrade over either of their current starters.

Miami DolphinsMost league sources believe the team will select a receiver, linebacker/defensive end, or cornerback with their first-round pick (No. 16).

One end that fits their scheme well is Kamerion Wimbley, who first reported they worked out this week.

The receiver most team observers believe they would select is Chad Jackson because of his speed and upside.

New England PatriotsA few league sources told this week that the club is looking at selecting either a cornerback or linebacker/defensive end with their first-round pick (No. 21) — assuming they don't trade up or down. The player they would like to have that fits their scheme best in the "Elephant" role, which is the hybrid end/linebacker, is Kamerion Wimbley, who is also known as a high character person, which is very important when you're looking at spending your top selection.

If it comes down to selecting the top cornerback on their board or Wimbley, it's believed Wimbley would be the selection.

Why not a running back, which is a need? It's believed that position is one of solid depth and they could get one later on the first day.

New York JetsMultiple league sources believe the team will not select a quarterback in the first round with either of their selections and will address that position later in the first day. It's believed that they don't see any of the three top quarterbacks as "franchise" types. QB Matt Leinart, according to a league source, didn't impress the club during his private workout and there are some concerns whether or not he could throw the ball effectively in the Meadowlands.

Should they not trade their first of two first-round picks, it's believed they will select DE Mario Williams if he's still on the board. The club strongly believes he can perform at a high level in their 3-4 scheme and play the "five-technique" end position. They also believe he can be used similar to the way the Patriots use DL Richard Seymour, meaning moving him inside and outside throughout each game.

Should Williams go off the board, the club will likely select OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, who would be the franchise left tackle that they badly need.

They were very intrigued with QB Kellen Clemens after working him out a few weeks ago, and Clemens could be their target as early as in round two. In fact, a league source noted that the team was "blown away" with what they saw from Clemens.

Oakland RaidersMost team observers feel the Raiders will look hard at selecting CB-S Michael Huff with their first-round selection. He would take over the starting job for veteran SS Derrick Gibson in 2007.
The other possibilities are quarterbacks Matt Leinart or Vince Young should either one of them fall. It's also possible the team trades up for either one.

Pittsburgh SteelersTwo league sources believe the team is looking at a few options with their first-round pick. If RB LenDale White falls to them, he or C Nick Mangold are thought to be near the top of their draft board.

White would fill the role vacated due to the retirement of veteran RB Jerome Bettis.

Mangold, if he makes to them, would be the eventual replacement for veteran C Jeff Hartings, who turns 34 years old this fall.

A second-day selection that makes a lot of sense is G Willie Colon, who the club is said to be very high on.

San Diego Chargers – A team source told this week that the club is looking at selecting a wide receiver, offensive lineman, or cornerback with their first-round selection.

The source believes the receiver they're targeting is Chad Jackson who they see as having more upside than Santonio Holmes.

They also want to improve their offensive line, which badly dropped off in performance last season.

Not only do they need to get an eventual replacement for veteran OLT Roman Oben, but as one team source framed it, "they won't let the kid fail," referring to QB Philip Rivers. The team wants to surround him with as much talent as possible.

Tennessee TitansWhile league sources indicate that the team is still undecided on who they will select (Vince Young or Matt Leinart), don't count out them trading down if they believe one of them would be available a few selections later. The team needs help and depth in several areas, and picking up extra picks wouldn't be such a bad move.

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